Shiv Sena has turned pseudo-secular, says Devendra Fadnavis

The BJP leader questions why some parties were upset at ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ being played when it was part of Hindu tradition

April 10, 2022 08:57 pm | Updated 08:57 pm IST - Pune

Devendra Fadnavis, Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra.

Devendra Fadnavis, Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra. | Photo Credit: PTI

Taking jibes at the ruling Shiv Sena, former Maharashtra Chief Minister and the BJP’s Leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday said the Uddhav Thackeray-led party had turned “pseudo-secular”.

Mr. Fadnavis, who was campaigning for the BJP’s candidate ahead of the April 12 Kolhapur North by-poll, took pot-shots at the three-party ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government (of the Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress) by questioning why some parties were so upset at the ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ being played when it was part of Hindu tradition.

“The Shiv Sena became ‘pseudo-secular’ the day when one of their local leaders printed a calendar in Urdu in which [the late Sena] founder Bal Thackeray was addressed by the honorific janab [‘Sir’],” Mr. Fadnavis said.

The BJP leader, however, stressed that his party was not against any religion or prayers in different religions.

At the same time, he lambasted the Sena — the BJP’s estranged erstwhile saffron ally — for the party’s overt ‘concern’ in ensuring that the Azaan continued to play on loudspeakers.

“If the Shiv Sena starts taking classes on Azaan, then certainly questions will be raised…Hanuman Chalisa is part of our Hindu culture. But why some people are getting so angry on it while they have no problems as to the Azaan playing on loudspeakers is something I cannot fathom,” said Mr. Fadnavis, targeting the three MVA coalition parties.

MNS chief’s stand

It was Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray who recently kicked up the ‘Azaan versus Hanuman Chalisa’ controversy with his April 2 speech in Mumbai’s Shivaji Park demanding that the MVA government remove loudspeakers from mosques.

In his speech, Mr. Thackeray, advocating a hard ‘Hindutva’ line that veered towards the BJP, demanded the ruling MVA government to remove loudspeakers in mosques else his party workers would do so by force and play the Hanuman Chalisa in their stead.

While the MNS chief’s speech met with condemnations from the Sena, the NCP and the Congress leaders, Mr. Fadnavis had tartly remarked that there was nothing wrong in what Mr. Raj Thackeray had said — causing the MVA leadership to accuse the MNS of being the BJP’s ‘B-team’.

Ever since the Sena severed its 25-year-old ties with the BJP over the Chief Minister post after the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections to ally with the ideologically opposed Congress and the NCP, the BJP has left no opportunity to target the Sena for having ‘forsaken’ its Hindutva credentials.  

MSRTC protest

Meanwhile, Mr. Fadnavis condemned the MSRTC staff members’ protest outside NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s Mumbai residence on April 8, but ticked off some MVA leaders for suggesting that the BJP had a hand in it.

He expressed confidence that the BJP would win the Kolhapur North Assembly by-poll, where a prestige fight is in the offing between State BJP president Chandrakant Patil and senior Congressman and district Guardian Minister Satej ‘Bunty’ Patil.

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